Guy Caron, a Quebec MP and former economist with the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada, is the third candidate to enter the race for the federal NDP leadership.

Caron, who represents the riding of Rimouski–Neigette—Témiscouata—Les Basques, focused on economic issues in launching his campaign Monday in Gatineau, Que., saying his first policy proposal would be a basic income.

"The problem with the NDP is we were never able to submit an economic platform that would actually make people dream, inspire people. This is what I want to do," he told CBC's Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton.

"I am an economist by training…I decided to study economics because, fundamentally, economics is not for conservatives. I'm convinced that progressive forces cannot cede this ground to Bay Street and international financiers.

Caron positioned economic inequality as one of the defining challenges of the moment, alongside climate change. 

He said his basic income proposal would help people living below the low income cut-off, the Statistics Canada threshold beneath which individuals or families devote a larger-than-normal share of their income to necessities like food and shelter.

"People can actually think of their future rather than thinking of what they will have to eat," he said.

Caron wouldn't say how much the proposal would cost, saying he wants to price out his entire campaign platform before revealing.

He criticized the Liberal government's decision to abandon a promise to tax stock options and Finance Minister Bill Morneau's comments on employment security

"We're in a pivotal time in our history right now. We're seeing Liberals governing like Conservatives were governing... Beyond a change in style and form, if we look closely at Mr. Trudeau's major decisions, we realize that very little meaningful change has taken place," he said about Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

He also criticized them for running high deficits without, in his words, much to show for it.

"Mr. Trudeau promised real change, but in truth, what citizens are reaping right now is little more than small change."

New Democrats voted to dismiss Tom Mulcair last April. With the first official debate of the leadership race scheduled for March 12 in Ottawa, candidates to succeed him have begun to step forward.

"The last election was really disappointing. We had high hopes and obviously we didn't meet these hopes," he said, referring to the NDP's fall from Official Opposition back to third-place party. 

"We got it wrong in the sense in that we were still trying to convince Canadians of the need to change from Harper...The Liberals, contrary to us, actually told them, 'What type of change do you want?' Their question was actually more accurate and it resonated more with Canadians."

Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins—James Bay in Ontario and one of the party's leading advocates for Indigenous communities, declared his candidacy on Sunday.

Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby—New Westminster in British Columbia and a former NDP House leader, became the first candidate earlier this month.

Party members will begin voting for a new leader in September.

Guy Caron enters NDP leadership race7:15